Umbilicus — A Ghazal

Umbilicus — A Ghazal

The geoduck. In terms of the record
for longevity, every other species is outscored.
Idly she filters plankton, lays 5 billion
eggs; no predators, lives in complete accord.

A man with butterfly wings in a cane-
backed chair has his goldfish tethered to a cord;
they’re guarded by a pug in a pop-up
farmland and linoleum that came prescored.

Each draw we get only one vowel
from scrabble letters in a bag of whipcord:
stretch the string tight, pluck it, strong
rhythms, the schism between growth and discord.

Tamar carries the chain all the way
to David, a bargain secured by staff, seal, cord.
She is burning with righteous fire.
The clamoring notes of a 12-tone chord.

That apple impossibly crisp; the poison
side tempts. Medea wants it cored
to feed her two boys. The Goebbles’
six children, their deaths underscored.

Ah, Poet, tinkering with stories
while playing the clavichord
cannot bring you to the leaping place.
Go back to the embryo, the notochord.


17-Year Cycle

Eggs for eyes, sunny side up.
Judy cradles the bloody head
named Holo in her lap. Now
that she has it, she would rather
be singing in the shower.

NFL linemen rejoice, rejoice
in her feat, bring garlands
of wheat.  Lay them on the field
at her feet. The trophy held high, lumbar
and pecs strained. Bruised,

beaten, diffused, sent to a land                                  
where mice rule over men and women
crouch in the trenches with assault                
rifles. Back home pols argue:
penalize or tax their patience.

Marduk rages. In the sharpener, a cricket
crouches, ready to spring when the plastic
housing gets squeezed
to empty blue-pencil shavings.
Locusts ravage the field.

Stephanie Pressman has an MA in English from San Jose State University. Her work has appeared in Bridges, cæsura, CQ/California State Poetry Quarterly, Montserrat Review, Red Wolf Editions, and other journals. Her long poem Lovebirdman in an illustrated volume was published in June, 2018.

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